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SANDAG's Deputy CEO, Coleen Clementson, was recently named to lead the regional agency as the interim CEO. Courtesy photo
SANDAG's Deputy CEO, Coleen Clementson, was recently named to lead the regional agency as the interim CEO. Courtesy photo
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SANDAG approves Coleen Clementson as interim CEO beginning January

REGION — The San Diego Association of Governments’ board of directors unanimously approved the appointment of SANDAG’s Deputy CEO, Coleen Clementson, to lead the regional agency as the interim CEO on Dec. 8.

Clementson will begin serving as interim CEO in January 2024. The current CEO, Hasan Ikhrata, has led SANDAG since 2018, and his last day is December 29.

“I am thrilled that there was unanimous support for Ms. Clementson to serve as our interim CEO,” SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas said in a statement. “With so many projects in the pipeline, she is exactly the leader we need to hit the ground running.

“Ms. Clementson understands SANDAG and the needs of our communities,” Vargas said. “She is committed to carrying out our vision to empower and uplift community members through investments in our region’s infrastructure that help people get to the places that matter most.”

As deputy CEO, Clementson’s work involves overseeing community engagement, an $800 million capital improvement program and the implementation of the Regional Plan, according to the agency.

Clementson is an alum of UC San Diego and regularly lectures and mentors fellow Tritons. Recently, UCSD awarded her their most prestigious award, Outstanding Alumna.

SANDAG hired a recruitment firm, CPSHR, which is hosting the public meetings to gather “input and feedback about the scope of responsibilities and priorities for the SANDAG CEO role and to identify the qualifications, experience and key leadership competencies that are expected of the individual selected for the position,” a statement from the firm read.

SANDAG CEO Hasan Ikhrata submitted his notice to the board of directors in July.

“I came to SANDAG almost five years ago to reinvigorate this organization and reimagine a brighter future for the San Diego region,” he said. “Together, with the amazing SANDAG team, we have done just that, tackling longstanding issues such as transit to the airport, the falling Del Mar Bluffs, building a third crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the need for free transit, more bikeways and housing.

“Our bold vision has garnered support from federal and state funding agencies, with more than $1 billion in investments coming to the region,” Ikhrata said. “As the agency starts its next chapter, this is the right time to hand over the leadership reins.”

Ikhrata, who took over as head of the regional transportation planning agency in 2018, often found himself in political controversy, most prominently when he discussed a fee for miles driven — a road usage charge. This put him in the crosshairs of leaders from North County and rural East County.

During Ikhrata’s tenure, more than $1 billion in funds were awarded for projects throughout the San Diego region.

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